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Menu Maths

Menu Maths is about choice.
  • Teachers choose which menu to use.
  • Learners choose which item to savour from Today's Specials.
Why? To enrich mathematics learning and teaching, encourage greater student participation and support the curriculum culture of learning to work like a mathematician.
At Café Conundrum our menus offer choice from the best mathematical investigations we can find.

Café Conundrum offers menus using Poly Plug as the main ingredient.

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Stories of Success

Menu Maths is a concept - the concept of introducing more choice, more student participation and more student ownership of learning into the classroom. Aaron Peeters has explored the Menu Maths concept and shared his experiences in this article: His writing includes these observations:
So much pops up that can be addressed at the student's point of need.

Choice. If students are to become the independent, autonomous learners we hope for them to be, we should start now. Students are capable of making their own choices about their learning. Moreover, they are enthusiastic about it.

There is plenty of room here for more stories. Tell us about your experiences with Menu Maths and include examples of student work if you can.

Preparing Menus

You can create your own menus, as Aaron explains in his article, or you can select from ready prepared ones, each of which highlights its own particular way of using concrete material 'ingredients' and teaching craft 'spices'. Some prepared choices are:

  • Menu Maths @ Café Conundrum
    Use Poly Plug as the common ingredient in a range of investigations.
    Four menus - one menu in each of four content strands.

  • Picture Puzzles
    One screen, two learners, concrete materials and a challenge.
    A unique way to use any computing device.

  • Replacement Units
    Select a menu of content-connected tasks from your task kit.
    Implement the model to balance opportunities for personal investigation and whole class investigation.

Menu Maths Pack

Menu Maths @ Café Conundrum helps you to build more flexible Working Mathematically classrooms. You can:
  • Use menus with the whole class or with groups to invite students to work in pairs like a mathematician.
  • Take your first hands-on investigation adventure using easily controllable, easily packed up equipment and you only need to be familiar with the small number of problems on the menu.
  • Choose to focus on one investigation from the menu with the whole class or group to model how to work like a mathematician.
  • Write an Investigation Guide to extend students beyond the 'tip of the iceberg' (see below).
  • Use them in conjunction with other tasks from Mathematics Task Centre and lessons from Maths300 to build richer, deeper unit plans in your choice of content area.
  • ... or in your own way
Consider building a café environment in the classroom - decorating appropriately, allowing students to bring water and health snacks. Perhaps even playing soft background music? Chat, chew (?) and be challenged!

What's on the Menu?

Menu Maths is delivered to you by email as an easy to use PDF published for the exclusive use of your school (or yourself). These menus are designed to use Poly Plug as the main 'ingredient'. Just print and play.
  • At least five investigations on every menu.
  • Every investigation explored with Poly Plug.
  • Each menu focuses on a particular content strand.
  • 'Placemats' included, if necessary as playing boards.
  • Menus suit a range of ages and abilities.
  • On line teachers' notes (see below).

Café Conundrum menus have been trialled over several years.

Poly Plug Puzzles A

  • Ingredients:
    • 1 Poly Plug set
  • Year Levels: 3 - 8
  • Computation, Pattern, Generalisation, Algebra
  • Investigations:
    • Make A Snake
    • Lining Up
    • 13 Away
    • 4 Arm Shapes
    • Crossing The River 1
    • Jumping Kangaroos

Poly Plug Puzzles C

  • Ingredients:
    • 1 Poly Plug set,
    • 1 placemat
    • 4 dice
  • Year Levels: 3 - 10
  • Chance & Data, Computation
  • Investigations:
    • Counter Escape
    • The Frog Pond
    • Dice Differences
    • Have A Hexagon
    • 12 Counters
    • Walk The Plank

Poly Plug Puzzles B

  • Ingredients:
    • 1 Poly Plug set
    • 1 placemat
  • Year Levels: 3 - 8
  • Logic & Reasoning
  • Investigations:
    • Big Toe Os & Xs
    • Back To Back Building
    • Crossing The Desert
    • Nim
    • Human Moves Monster

Poly Plug Puzzles D

  • Ingredients:
    • 1 Poly Plug set
    • 1 placemat
  • Year Levels: 3 - 8
  • Number, Computation, Pattern
  • Investigations:
    • Row Points
    • Cookie Count
    • Eric The Sheep
    • 4 & 20 Red Birds
    • Bob's Buttons

Beyond the Tip of the Iceberg

The links below will take you beyond the tip of the investigation revealed in the menu challenge. They will help you encourage your students to savour a problem more deeply ... rather than being satisfied with a light meal or a smorgasbord.

To support the teacher they include:

  • ideas for using the class set of Poly Plug to explore any of the Menu investigations as a whole class,
  • further information about each investigation which is stored in the companion Task Cameo,
  • links to Maths300 (where appropriate) through the Task Cameos.
Poly Plug Puzzles A
Poly Plug Puzzles B
Poly Plug Puzzles C
Poly Plug Puzzles D

Note: Maths300 provides detailed whole class lesson plans and, in some cases, software to further support and extend the investigation. Also, Cameos assume students have a Mathematics Journal in which they keep progressive notes of their investigations, just like a mathematician would.

Investigation Guides

This is the place to share Investigation Guides written by you and your team to support Menu Maths @ Café Conundrum. The guides listed have been shared by colleagues. Please send in your guides to be added to this list. You are always welcome to submit additional information for these teaching notes - how you tweaked the problem, or student work, or an insight not yet recorded. Our contacts are in the banner at the top of this page.

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